Johannesburg - Mozambique's military should immediately release Amade Abubacar, a community radio journalist for the state-owned Rádio e Televisao Comunitária Nacedje de Macomia in northern Cabo Delgado province, the Committee to Protect Journalists has demanded.
Police arrested Abubacar at a bus station in Macomia on 5 January while he was photographing families who have fled militant attacks in the coastal province, reports independent Zitamar News, for which the radio journalist is also a correspondent.
A statement from the Mozambican chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa said authorities were holding Abubacar in Mueda, 200 km from Macomia, in a military prison for terror suspects.
"Mozambican authorities should immediately free Amade Abubacar without charge and stop censoring coverage of the insurgency by detaining journalists and accusing them of colluding with militants," said Angela Quintal, CPJ's Africa program coordinator, on Thursday.
"With Mozambique set for crucial elections in October, Cabo Delgado cannot be a no-go area for the media. Citizens have a right to independent and diverse sources of information about what is happening in their country."
Zitamar reported in its newsletter that Amade was able to contact a family member on the day of his arrest. He said he was "repeatedly and brutally kicked" and was accused of having links to a now-banned Facebook account promoting and recruiting insurgents.
"Cabo Delgado Governor Julio Parruque told CPJ in a WhatsApp message on 7 January that he would try to get information the following day. He did not respond to follow-up messages. President Filipe Nyusi's spokesman, Arsenio Henriques, did not respond to a request via WhatsApp for comment yesterday," said Quintal.
National police spokesman Inácio Dina was quoted in Mozambique's O Pais newspaper as saying: "We are coordinating and sharing information. We will share the circumstances of the arrest or detention of your colleague, who is also our colleague".
At the time of publication, Mozambican authorities had yet to make any official comment on Abubacar's case.
In a statement to CPJ yesterday, the journalist's brother, Ali Abubacar, said his family did not know why Amade was arrested and had not had any contact with him since the day of his arrest.
"As far as we are concerned it is a way to silence a journalist's voice. We condemn this action as a complete threat to freedom of expression."
His family remains very worried and have appealed to authorities to help ensure that Abubacar is freed as soon as possible.
African News Agency/ANA